Tell-Tale Signs of a Functional Addict

Tell-Tale Signs of a Functional Addict

Drinking in secret is a sign of functional addiction

When you think of the word addict, what image is it that comes to mind? Many people will envision an individual who cannot take care of himself or herself. This stereotypical addict may not have a job, close friends, or a home. He or she may act belligerently or may simply stare solemnly as if empty inside. While some drug and alcohol addicts fit these images, many carry on with their lives in a way that would appear healthy to others. Functional addicts are able to manage their occupational, scholarly, financial, familial, and social lives. Unfortunately, it is these individuals that struggle to seek treatment for their hidden problems. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the tell-tale signs of a functional addict. By recognizing these signs, you can help a loved one get the treatment he or she desperately needs.

Signs of a Functional Addiction

Because functional addicts seem to manage their lives well, it can be difficult to recognize when a problem is actually present. Family and friends of a functional addict must pay close attention to that person’s behaviors and emotions. Some signs of a functional addiction include the following:

  • Inability to have one drink without having more
  • Mental preoccupation with the next drink or drug-using opportunity
  • Many failed attempts to stop drinking or using drugs
  • Drinking or using drugs in secret
  • Cravings or withdrawal symptoms occurring after being away from drugs or alcohol for a short period of time
  • Becoming defensive or aggressive when asked if they have a substance abuse problem

Unfortunately, these symptoms are often hard to recognize, and many of them require a close relationship with the functional addict. Any time that person states a concern about his or her substance use, it should be taken seriously.

Helping a Functional Addict Seek Treatment

If you worry that your loved one is a functional addict, you must understand how important it is that he or she seeks treatment. Often, functional addicts will ignore that they have a problem until something serious occurs. They may come to find that their health has been compromised or are involved in an accident as a result of their addiction. It is important that functional addicts seek treatment before it comes to this. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to convince a functional addict that he or she needs help. These individuals often believe that they do not have a problem because they are managing their lives like everybody else. These beliefs can lead functional addicts to become defensive when confronted. For this reason, it is important to take the following things into consideration:

  • Only confront the addict when he or she is sober
  • Focus on expressing your concerns rather than advising him or her on how to live
  • Educate yourself on possible treatment options to share with the addict
  • Understand that it is the addict’s choice to enter treatment, not your own

By taking all of this into consideration, the functional addict is less likely to become defensive or aggressive. Sharing your concerns with the addict may be exactly what he or she needs to choose recovery.

Get Help for Drug or Alcohol Addiction

If you or a loved one has become addicted to drugs or alcohol, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatments for addiction.